The European Union's two most powerful leaders have offered a cautious response to Donald Trump's election victory, congratulating the president-elect while making clear that they would not compromise on their liberal values.
In a carefully worded statement on Wednesday, German chancellor Angela Merkel listed the values her country shared with the US and told the president-elect that continued close cooperation would be on the basis of these.
Merkel's response was echoed by French president François Hollande, who told reporters that the result opened up a period of uncertainty with issues at stake such as peace, terrorism, the Middle East, and the preservation of the planet. On all these, the president said France was ready to engage with the new US administration, but, referring to the tone of the campaign, Hollande warned that France would not make concessions on Europe's values and interests.
He added that it was important to recognise the many challenges and concerns that voters around the world faced, especially now that these have had an impact on the world's most powerful country.
A spokesperson for the German government told BuzzFeed News that Merkel and Hollande spoke over the phone before their respective remarks.
Trump's victory is likely to renew a French and German push for greater European defence cooperation and capabilities that emerged in the wake of Brexit – a move that in the past has been resisted by the UK and is understood to be unwelcome in the US.
Germany's foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has called an extraordinary meeting with his EU counterparts in the wake of the election. It is understood that the meeting to discuss the result will take place on Sunday. Earlier, he said Europe had to be prepared for the fact that US foreign policy would be less predictable in future and for an America more inclined to take unilateral decisions.
Meanwhile, German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen told local media that the result was a "shock", adding that "Europe has to prepare for the fact that it must provide for itself", including a larger defence budget.
With a French presidential election early next year, other political leaders in the country focused their response on how the US result played into domestic politics. Hollande's predecessor and current presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy said that like with Brexit, US voters had rejected the orthodox thinking around a global trade that has created inequality, and has increased fears about security, immigration, and uncontrolled borders.
The former president's remarks were in contrast to those of his conservative presidential rival Alain Juppé, who will face Sarkozy in primaries in two weeks.
Most other leaders stuck to convention with more cautious statements of circumstance and less strong words.
British prime minister Theresa May emphasised the special relationship between the UK and the US.
But as Britain leaves the EU, experts suggest that the government will face a daunting task to manage major shifts in the two pillars of UK foreign policy – the relationship with the US and EU membership.
The strongest praise for Trump's victory came from Hungary's right-wing prime minister, Viktor Orbán. He was the only EU leader to endorse Trump ahead of the election. He is understood to oppose the Obama administration's approach to Ukraine and Russia, and what he has called a "policy of exporting democracy".
Trump's victory poses a massive additional challenge to the EU, which is already dealing with Britain's departure and growing divisions between remaining member states over major issues such as the refugee crisis and Russia.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, sent a joint letter congratulating Trump and inviting him to Europe at his "earliest convenience" to discuss relations over the next four years.
But Tusk also tweeted that events of the last few months had put liberal democracy itself at risk.
The Commission's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, joined the many voices calling for the EU to stay united.
Congratulating the president-elect, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg reminded Trump that the only time the alliance invoked Article 5, its collective defence clause, was in the wake of 9/11 after attacks on the US.
Stoltenberg said it was "important that the transatlantic bond remains strong" and that "a strong NATO is good for the United States and it is good for Europe". He added that he looked forward to welcoming Trump to the Belgian capital for next year's NATO summit.
In the Balkans, feelings were mixed with one official suggesting that Trump's foreign policy was less hawkish than Hillary Clinton's would have been, especially towards Russia.
Others, including former a Swedish prime minister, were more pessimistic.
But a number of other officials BuzzFeed News spoke to on Wednesday morning said it was too early to express a view on the impact a Trump presidency would have on Europe, and the broader geopolitical order.
Alberto Nardelli is Europe editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alberto Nardelli at email@example.com.
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